Dundee West FC are celebrating a year like no other which saw them win awards for their community response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Over the course of the last nine months, West have embarked on a number of projects to assist people in the local area during and post-Covid-19 lockdown.
For their work, which included providing food for those in need, reducing social isolation and getting people active with street fitness, they won a pair of Dundee Volunteer & Voluntary Action (DVVA) Volunteer Awards and the Sport and Wellbeing prize at the Dundee Champion Awards.
The Charlotte Street club won the Covid-19 Community Response Volunteer team prize for 2020, while club development officer Tam McCabe was awarded Volunteer of the Year by the DVVA.
McCabe was delighted to see the club’s work recognised, insisting their response during times of crisis shows the power football can have as they acted as a lifeline for local people.
“It was fantastic and highlights the positive response from football in such terrible circumstances,” he said.
“We wanted to try to make a difference to our community and it carried on post-lockdown.
“It also ties in quite nicely with Dundee West’s 35th anniversary this year.
“It’s nice to have those services recognised with three different awards for our initiatives.
“We’ve had the likes of the street fitness project, raising £2,500 for the community in food vouchers and our Mission West scheme, which saw families hand in cosy clothes for those in poverty or struggling financially right now.
“This emphasises the power of football. Sport reaches out to people in so many different ways.”
West are more than just a football club
For McCabe, West are about more than just football. He feels they are a community hub for those in the Starthmartine area to turn to when needed.
With the recent formation of a community trust, he believe that is a position that will only get stronger going into the new year.
“Registering as a charity for the community trust is more looking towards our plans for 2021,” he added.
“That’s a big thing we’ve been pushing on the Scottish FA side.
“We’ve been doing some great work in football and our focus now is more about social change as well as growing the game.
“We’re sitting at about 700-odd kids playing the game, our membership is growing all the time it’s incredible.
“With the reputation and the infrastructure we’ve now got in place, we’re looking to work with partners to support families suffering from deprivation, isolation and poor mental health.
“We’re now using the community trust to use football to support people across the local area. We’ve got partners in schools and the police to come on as trustees to help drive it forward.
“It’s football for social change. It’s a massive step.
“We’re reaching out to more groups and families to try to get them a part of the club.
“It doesn’t have to be football, they can come along have a tea or a coffee and chat with maybe a bit of light exercise.
“This facility is now a need. We’re at the highest point we’ve ever been as a football club but it’s more than that now.
“We want to replicate the likes of Dundee United Community Trust, Dundee, Montrose, Spartans, etc.
“They’re doing such amazing work using sport and football for positive change and that’s the stage we’re now at.”
New 3G pitch on the way at Charlotte Street?
From matters off the park to those on it, McCabe revealed the wheels are in motion for a new astroturf pitch at Downfield Playing Fields as they look to reach even more Dundonians.
Plans have been submitted for a 9-a-side surface which the club hope to use to deliver a wide range of sessions as they aim to get as many people active and healthy as possible.
McCabe commented: “Hopefully, a 3G pitch at Charlotte Street is on the horizon. We’ve now submitted our business plan to the council and reached out to the local community.
“We don’t know what the timeline for that is but we’re pushing for a 9-a-side pitch, which is two 7-a-sides going across the way.
“If we get that down, we can expand it to 11-a-side in years to come, hopefully.
“We’ve got George Allan, he’s the man with the knowhow of how to do a project like this. He did the Craigie pitch on Arbroath Road a few years ago.
“He’s been absolutely incredible in driving it forward for us.
“The council are buying into it because they’re seeing the positive work we’re doing off the pitch as well.
“We want to make a difference by using the facility to get more people in that maybe aren’t usually football-orientated.
“Whether that’s our boys, girls, para team, adults, walking football – we’ll be able to use it for all our groups in some way.
“We want to get more people active, healthy and out of isolation.
“The community are buying into what we’re doing now. We’re hoping to tie in with schools who want better and closer pitches for their games, too.”